April 19, 1862: One Year Ago
One year ago to day the memorable riot occurred in Baltimore. What a wide difference there is between the two days. To day the Stars and Stripes were floating everywhere through the City. One patriotic citizen displayed 34 flags on his house. I was in town this evening. I have made very pleasant acquaintances in Baltimore.
See the scanned diary page.
Following the firing of shots on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, President Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteer militiamen to assemble and protect Washington, DC. Southern sympathizers in Maryland worried that Lincoln was actually gathering troops to occupy their state and force it to remain in the Union.
Tensions in Baltimore were already high before the 35 rail cars of Pennsylvania and Massachusetts troops arrived at the President Street Railroad Station from Philadelphia on April 19. The troops needed to transfer to the Camden Street Station, 10 blocks away, to continue traveling south to Washington, and there was no easy way to get there. Some of the soldiers were transported by horse-drawn rail cars, while four companies of the 6th Massachusetts Regiment marched in formation across the city. Both groups were met with southern sympathizers shouting support for the Confederacy, throwing stones at the soldiers, and otherwise blocking their routes through the city.
At one point during the march along Pratt Street, a shot rang out. The inexperienced, frightened, and armed soldiers on foot opened fire on the crowd. Mayhem ensued. Approximately fourteen people died and many more citizens and soldiers were wounded.
Eventually all of the soldiers reached the Camden Street Station, and departed for Washington by train, with the help of Mayor George William Brown and Police Marshal George P. Kane. Civil unrest continued through the night after the troops left as southern sympathizers destroyed railroad bridges in and around Baltimore, effectively cutting it off from neighboring cities.
Mayor Brown sent telegrams to President Lincoln asking that no more Federal soldiers be sent through Baltimore due to the unrest. An awkward peace settled on the city as northern troops were directed to avoid the city going forward.
Ultimately, Maryland remained in the Union, but the state had no shortage of Confederate supporters. In striking contrast to Cyrus’ experiences in Baltimore the following year, few buildings displayed United States flags in April 1861; Confederate and Maryland state flags were reportedly much more common.
Sources: Maryland in the Civil War by Harold Manakee, Maryland Voices in the Civil War edited by Charles W. Mitchell.